What transformed Mohamed Merah from a petty criminal into a terrorist who kills 7 people? Was Merah a lone wolf or part of a jihadist network, such as al-Qaeda? Was he encouraged to carry out these acts by his brother, Abdelkader Merah? And why did he video-tape his killings, puts it to jihadist music, then sends it to Al-Jazeera?
Evidence of the final shoot out at an apartment located in a tranquil central Toulouse neighborhood (on Rue Sergent-Vigne) was revealed to reporters last Friday afternoon. The apartment was riddled with bullet scars from a 32 hour stand-off (where 300 rounds were fired) that came to a head on Thursday, when Merah was shot (he had 20 wounds on his body) while attempting to spring out of the bathroom door, guns blazing as he charged the police.
The apartment itself had upturned furniture, used as defense barricades against the French police. The Telegraph is reporting, it looked like a war zone. Water pipes were busted from bullets and this caused some flooding of the flat. But now that it’s over with (if it really is), what are authorities learning about Mohamed Merah that would explain why he killed three French paratroopers, three Jewish schoolchildren, and a rabbi?
What we really want to know, is whether he acted alone, or whether he worked in cahoots with confederates, or even larger terrorist organizations? We know, for example, that Mohamed had been in Afghanistan in the late fall of 2010. Did he receive any training while there, that encouraged him to carry out these terrorist acts when returning to France? Merah was arrested in Kandahar by the Afghan police, but was passed over to the U.S. military.
The Americans in turn handed him over to French intelligence, who never really did very much in the way of questioning him, other than putting Merah under surveillance. The French allowed him to travel to Lahore, Pakistan in August of 2011. Mohamed got Hepatitis A and returned to Toulouse. One has to wonder why the French allowed him to travel to Pakistan, after his suspicious behavior in southern Afghanistan?
With regards to his brother’s (30-year-old Abdelkader Merah) involvement in these heinous acts of terrorism, he’s been taken in for questioning, and has a lot of explaining to do himself about his whereabouts and what influence he may have had on his brother. Three items I read in news look suspicious for Abdelkader. One, is it’s said he was having lunch with Mohamed shortly before the attack on the Jews (which was Monday the 19th).
Second, is he was nearby when his brother actually shot the children and a rabbi. Third, is he was with Mohamed when he stole the scooter used in all the attacks. I haven’t seen the exact date of when the scooter was stolen, but this is indeed suspicious that Merah’s older brother was along when the theft took place. It makes it look as if he helped to engineer a conspiracy that has France turned on its head!
It’s not too clear what we have here yet. It’s doubtful that Merah’s trips to Afghanistan and to Pakistan were merely benign. Was this the point at which Merah transitioned over to a full-fledged terrorist? Toulouse once was a peaceful place to live. That’s changed drastically with the dramatic shoot out on her soil last Thursday. Why wasn’t Mohamed Merah apprehended much earlier, with so many transparent signs of his ilicit activities clearly exposed?